Brought up on Craigmore Station, New Zealand, Forbes worked as a shepherd after leaving school. He studied Agricultural Economics at Lincoln University in New Zealand where he was student president in 1984. He went to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar in 1985. After time at Goldman Sachs, he completed an MBA at Harvard in 1992. Forbes worked as a trader and manager at Merrill Lynch from 1992 to 1999. He then founded U.K. financial data company Credit Market Analysis (CMA), which he sold to Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Forbes returned to New Zealand in 2005 to live on and manage Craigmore Station. He is interested in helping investors and the ag industry to manage disruptions facing farm, forest and food value chains.